The Caretaker takes place in a house in west London during the 1950s and examines the strange relationship between a tramp, Davies, and two damaged and disconnected brothers, Mick and Aston. The play opens as Aston saves Davies from a fight and brings him home to give him a place to stay. Davies seems grateful, but it is soon clear that he is a perpetual liar and a selfish bigot who immediately tries to manipulate the situation to get as much out of it as he can. Aston brings him clothes, new shoes, and a bed to sleep in but they are never good enough for Davies. However, Davies is quick to accept the money that Aston offers him to return to Sidcup and collect his papers -- a trip that is never made. When Aston offers Davies the job of caretaker, he accepts it but is quick to turn his allegiance to Aston’s brother Mick when he realizes that he can potentially get a better deal out of him. Aston is quiet, kind, and unassuming, constantly drifting in and out of the house without any real purpose. It soon becomes clear that Aston has been sectioned as a teenager and subjected to electric shock therapy which has left him vulnerable and slow to communicate. Mick, however, is quick to bait Davies, catching him off balance and deliberately confusing him. Throughout the play he toys with Davies’ allegiance to the brothers, first threatening and cajoling him, then buttering him up and offering him the role of caretaker in the house. He encourages Davies to criticize Aston, but then turns on Davies and throws him out when he does. Aston and Mick are bound together by blood, yet disconnected and emotionally estranged. By the end of the play Davies has sealed his fate by attempting to muscle in and disrupt the disparate existence of the two brothers.
The Caretaker guide sections